When I became pregnant with my first child, to say I was clueless about what I needed for when the baby arrived was a huge understatement. I had no idea what a baby needed, made infinitely more obvious by my first attempt at compiling a baby registry. In fact, my original baby registry was so inadequate that certain family members mocked me openly for it and began questioning my fitness to be a mother. But what do you need for a new baby? What should you put on your baby registry?
First off, let me say that there is no shortage of people who will offer up advice, often unsolicited, of what you absolutely have to have for a new baby and what you need to put on a baby registry. The internet is flooded with registry suggestion sheets to get you started, and the store you choose to register at will probably have some helpful suggestions as well. But what do you actually need? The answer to that question becomes more complicated and depends a lot on your personal opinions and parenting choices.
Regardless of what you put on your registry, be prepared for someone to object to your choices… all of your choices. When I listed bottles on my registry, someone advised me to remove the bottles if I was serious about wanting to breast feed – that the bottles would tempt me to cheat so it was best not to have any in my house. When I listed cute pacifiers with fun slogans like “Pretty Princess”, someone felt the need to inform me that pacifiers are bad for a baby’s language development. People will tell you not to buy diapers and formula ahead of time because your baby may be allergic to them. And be prepared for a lot of “Oh, my son hated his swing. You don’t need one of those.” The reality is, a lot of baby gear is trial an error. What works for one baby may not work for another. While other people’s experiences and thoughts can be valuable, don’t limit your choices simply because your neighbor’s nephew’s son hated to be swaddled. My daughter loved being swaddled!
Ideally, you would make your baby registry and acquire all your baby supplies about a month after your baby is born, not months before. Most of the first month your baby is home is spent working out the kinks and finding what works for you and your baby. It’s kind of unrealistic to expect you to know all those things months ahead of time. How are you supposed to months in advance if your child will love or hate the bouncy chair you spent hours and hours researching and reading reviews on?
I will say that there are certain items I feel are slightly more “essential” than other that I would suggest parents consider acquiring for their new baby.
1. Car Seat – If you plan to bring this baby home from the hospital, you’re going to need one of these.
2. Stroller – This actually goes hand in hand with the car seat as the infamous “infant travel system” often includes a combination of a car seat, stroller, and car seat base. Even if you don’t use the stroller immediately, you’ll probably want one eventually.
3. Pack n Play – People will tell you all the reasons why you don’t need a pack n play: they take up room, there are better alternatives available, etc. I’ve used my pack n play, in one form or another, every day for the last 4 years. It has served as a changing table, a play pen, a bassinet, a fort, a jungle gym, and storage unit.
4. Diapers – Remember what I said above about people telling you not to register for them or buy a bunch until your baby is born and you find out if the baby is allergic? Buy them anyway – that way you have them, and you can always return them. Just make sure to buy the bigger sizes because babies grow out of the new born sizes fast.
5. Wipes – Diapers get so much attention, but baby wipes are just as important, and arguably more useful as they can have multiple purposes. And as with the diapers, if your child is allergic, just exchange them.
6. Burp Clothes – Newborns spit up… a lot… more than you could possibly imagine. Having some sort of burp cloth on hand is essential, and you’ll want them in every room of your house, in your diaper bag, and with your car seat. We never left the house without a burp cloth. And don’t think you have to use the fancy, commercial ones you find in the store. “Burp Cloth” is just a fancy term for rag. Feel free to make your own out of old towels. A friend told me the inserts for cloth diapers make great burp cloths, and she was absolutely right!
7. A baby chair – Next to my pack n play, our bouncy chair was the best thing that ever happened to us. This is where we set both my children when we needed to put them down. The vibrating option was just a bonus. Whether it’s a chair or a swing or hybrid of the two, you’ll need a place to set your baby and these work great.
8. Bottles and Nipples – Even if you’re planning on breast feeding, they’re useful to have on hand, especially if you’re pumping.
9. Clothes – I got so much grief from other mothers about wanting to buy my newborn babies clothes. “They don’t need them”, “They outgrow them so fast!”, “It’s just a waste of money”, bla bla bla. Sure, those things are probably true, but every expecting mother should be allowed the joy of perusing isles filled with adorable baby clothes. Buy the clothes – that’s part of the fun. My only suggestion is to have plenty of sleepers on hand as they’re terribly convenient. Onesies work too, but I had winter babies so we did sleepers.
10. Batteries – You have absolutely NO IDEA just how many batteries you’re going to go through during the first year of parenting. Everything takes batteries. Everything… Stock up!
11. (Optional) A Netflix Account or Other Streaming Video Subscription – OK, you can’t actually register for one of these, but I highly recommend all new parents acquire a streaming video subscription before the baby comes home. Once you find yourself up from 1:30 – 4:30 AM every night, you’ll realize just how little there is on regular TV to watch. If I was going to be up feeding a baby at all hours of the night, I at least wanted something interesting/fun to watch.
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